ALMA — Ceo Bauer has given back his community for a very long time; first as a young man fighting with the U.S. Army during World War II and still today, at age 98, through philanthropic support of Alma College.
Bauer, who lives in Ithaca, says giving back helps him feel active and involved in the community.
“Alma College is right here in Gratiot County, and it does a lot for this area, so I feel like it’s a worthwhile contribution,” Bauer said. “It’s a private college, so it relies on donations, and it’s a good one. I also appreciate its religious connection. I feel like the college develops good citizens, and it has for a long time. It’s easy to support Alma College.”
Bauer got his start donating to Alma College in the late 1980s, when he gave the college a house in Carson City he had inherited from an older relative. He has made gifts to Alma College nearly every year since, making him one the college’s longest-running donors.
“Ceo is the very definition of philanthropy, and takes great pride in his contributions to Alma College, Ithaca and the greater Gratiot County area, as well as veteran causes,” said Sherie Veramay, senior director of planned giving and advancement operations at Alma College. “Over the years, he has made contributions to Alma College in just about every category a gift can be made. We’re very grateful for Ceo’s generosity to Alma College.”
Growing up on a farm in Carson City, Bauer originally felt like his future was in the fields. Those plans changed when, at age 19, during World War II, he was drafted into the Army. He served in the 95th Infantry Division as a rifleman and fought in the Battle of Metz, during which he was severely wounded. Bauer has returned to the site of the battle, in France, every five years since 1987.
Following his service, Bauer attended Michigan State University, and graduated with a degree in civil engineering. He devoted more than 30 years to the Michigan Highway Department, now the Department of Transportation. A roadside rest area west of Seney on M-28 in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula honors his service.
“I retired in the early 1980s, and have technically been self-employed since then. My goal now is, and has been for a long time, to accumulate capital, so I can donate it worthwhile causes,” Bauer said.
Bauer’s interests include finance (he reads The Wall Street Journal every day) and fishing, specifically for brook trout. He still makes an annual trip to the Seney area to go fishing with friends, as he has done for years.
“I used to like hunting quite a bit, but I can’t do that much anymore,” Bauer said. “I’ve always been an outdoorsman — I owned one of the first snowmobiles in the state, in the 1950s. I tested it out on Lake Mecosta, to see how fast it would go, and I topped out at 30 mph.”
His home is full of memorabilia from a lifetime of world travel, as well as many types of commendations and honors. He proudly displays a set of coins, inscribed with Alma College icons on them, in a prominent area of his living room, and he loves giving tours to visitors. When people come by, he often finds himself dispensing advice — the same type of advice that college students can take to heart.
“Get up and do something good that helps humanity, your neighbors, your friends and your country,” Bauer said. “Be positive, not negative.”